Air Pollution Kills 7 Million Annually

In September, 2011 the above title read two million. Figures from both years are based on reports from the World Health Organization, a United Nations agency. Is air quality getting worse, or are more deaths being attributed to air pollution?

"The staggering number — one in eight of all deaths, globally" in 2012 makes air pollution "the single largest environmental health risk in the world today", writes Lucy Westcott (who also writes for The Wire). "The World Health Organization (WHO) says that improved technology used to measure the effects of human exposure to pollutants has led to better estimates of the number of deaths," adds Wescott.

WHO's press release further explains the near-quadrupling over the figure we reported in 2011 that was restricted to data from "1,100 cities across 91 countries, including capital cities and cities with more than 100,00 residents based on measurements from 2003 to 2010."

The new estimates are not only based on more knowledge about the diseases caused by air pollution, but also upon better assessment of human exposure to air pollutants through the use of improved measurements and technology. This has enabled scientists to make a more detailed analysis of health risks from a wider demographic spread that now includes rural as well as urban areas."

Reports of horrendous air quality are reported not only in Beijing and other Chinese citiesTehranDelhi and other Asian cities, but even Paris which enacted a partial driving ban on March 17.

However, deadly air pollution is not restricted to the smog and particulate pollution that envelop cities. WHO notes that 61% of air pollution-caused mortality (4.3 million deaths) in 2012 was attributed to "indoor air pollution in households that cooked over coal, wood and biomass stoves," writes Wescott.

The effects of air pollution transcend public health and mortality. Bloomberg News reports that "(a)ir pollution led to genetic changes that may have sapped learning skills in children whose mothers were exposed to a Chinese coal-fired power plant before it was shuttered a decade ago."

Full Story: Air Pollution Now Linked to 1 out of Every 8 Deaths in the World


Prepare for the AICP* Exam

Join the thousands of students who have utilized the Planetizen AICP* Exam Preparation Class to prepare for the American Planning Association's AICP* exam.
Starting at $245
Book cover of the Guide to Graduate Planning Programs 4th Edition

Thinking about Grad School?

The Planetizen Guide to Graduate Urban Planning Programs is the only comprehensive ranking and listing of graduate urban planning programs available.
Starting at $24.95

Build Your Own Paper Block City

Urban Fold is an all-inclusive kit that allows anyone to build the city of their dreams with a few simple folds.
Book cover of Where Things Are from Near to Far

Where Things Are From Near to Far

This engaging children's book about planning illustrates that "every building has its place."